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All leasing professionals, defined


There are so people involved in the leasing process that it can get confusing. Stay on top of it all (and the fees involved) with these definitions of all leasing professionals or simplify the process with Common.

What is a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is someone who has taken all required real estate classes and passed the state’s real estate licensing exam. Real estate agent’s client needs to pay the broker fee, also known as “collect your own fee.”

What is a broker?

A real estate broker is a professional who has also passed a state real estate broker license exam. They can work as an independent real estate agent or head a real estate firm and sponsor other agents to work for them. The role of a broker, however, depends on the state.

In New York, a typical broker’s fee is 12 to 15 percent of a year’s total rent, paid when a tenant agrees to lease an apartment the broker has shown them.

What is a landlord?

A landlord is a person who owns a building or property. If you rent from a landlord, you are renting directly from the building owner, and the building is most likely a smaller one with a superintendent (or “super”).

What is a Super?

A building superintendent often lives in (or a certain distance from) the rental property rent-free or for a reduced rate in exchange for their services. They are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week (with extra keys to every apartment) to handle any emergencies that might arise for the tenants.

What is a property management company?

For bigger buildings, landlords can bring in a property management company — a third-party, independent contractor — to maintain the residence and deal with tenants. This company can do everything from marketing vacant homes and handling maintenance and repair to collecting rent and signing leases.

What is a guarantor?

A guarantor is someone, usually a parent or family member, who will co-sign a lease with an applicant. As a co-signer, the guarantor assumes responsibility to pay the rent if the tenant defaults.

Usually, guarantors are required to make 80 to 100 times the cost of the monthly rent annually. When co-signing, they’re expected to submit recent pay stubs, two previous years of tax returns, most recent bank statements, their social security number, and some sort of identification (state ID or passport). Most landlords or property management companies will also run a background and credit check on the guarantor.

Simplified at Common

At Common, there are only a few people — and NO fees — that you need to be concerned with during the leasing process.

Leasing Specialists are your “real estate agents.” They are the ones who tour the home and answer any questions you may have. Their service is FREE. I repeat, all tours at Common homes are free.

The Leasing Admin is like your “broker,” except free (again!). They work with you to sign the lease and get you set up for move-in. Common does not charge broker fees.

After signing your lease, your Customer Success Manager will become the equivalent of a “property management company.” They’re there to help you with everything from moving in, to any problems you have within the home.

We also accept guarantors at Common. They do not have to sign the lease alongside the applicant, but guarantors become the contact person when a member defaults. The same financial requirements are applied — income 80x monthly rent annually (50x in Seattle) — and guarantors need to submit a notarized guarantor form and pass the background and credit checks.

If an applicant does not have a guarantor, they can opt to use HelloRented or Obligo to get a lease guarantee for purchase at Common. The service allows us to pre-authorize multiple months of rent from someone’s bank account in case they default. For this, the applicant will pay a slightly higher monthly fee, but this will be more affordable than having to pay a month’s rent in advance.

Find your Common home today.

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